Art of the Day: Ardnamurchan Zillij by Simon Fildes and Katrina McPherson, and you or me

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 12/26/2006 - 22:05.

 Ardnamurchan Zillij image by Norm Roulet

This is too cool! I was exploring a site linked to realneo called Left Luggage, and came across a project created by Simon Fildes and Katrina McPherson as part of their hyperchoreography initiatives, described as "An interactive moving mosaic for the web." I can't recall any so engaging places on the web, where an individual creates a new art form - a dancing mosaic. I'll let words from the Ardnamurchan Zillij website describe this further, below, and strongly suggest you check it out - my first effort is shown in a screenshot above, but what I created was actually a living, moving work of art... each of the images that make up the mosaic are short video loops, so each of the images and the overall composition are constantly moving and changing - as a Flash file, I didn't know how to save it, so it was temporary and so personal... give it a try here.

 Ardnamurchan Zillij screenshot

Between July and September 2004 Simon Fildes was New Dynamics Artist in Residence in the dispersed communities of Ardnamurchan as part of the Scottish Arts Council supported programme for Social Inclusion Partnership Communities. This was a part-time role to develop new 'new media' work with young people. Whilst staying there the award-winning video-maker Katrina McPherson worked along side Simon to create a new work for Alt-W called 'Ardnamurchan Zillij'.

The artists created a collaborative work with individuals from the geographically diverse groups in Ardnamurchan . They built up a bank of over 130 digital tiles based on looping moving images. The interface allows a user to select tiles and design a constantly moving colourful mosaic of small video clips. The video clips were created by designing, choreographing and videoing the movement of individuals in the communities of Ardnamurchan and the environment around them, and reducing the clips to near abstract shapes and sounds .

The idea to create an interactive moving digital mosaic was inspired by the artists fascination with Islamic Moroccan tradition which relies on geometry and endless repetition as an outlet for expression using shapes called fourmah to create intricate patterns, Zillij. Katrina and Simon were interested in exploring some interesting cultural parallels in this non representational form of art with the west coast of Scotland.


you discovered hyperchoreography!

I am so pleased that you have taken the time to dig in to these sites and have discovered some of the cutting edge of what can be done with bodies in motion plus a little technology. It is just the sort of investigative curiosity I had hoped to connect us all to. Northeast Ohio is on the way. We have shed the nineteenth century models (Cleveland and Ohio Ballets) and begun to wonder what is next for dance. Well kids, there's lots and now you're seeing some of it.

hyperchoreography came to REALNEO

Everything about this teaches great lessons about the value of IT, as well as dance. You posted about an earlier video dance project by Simon Fildes and Katrina McPherson - Simon seems to have found that and had you make some edits - then he returned here when he had something else to share - I explored that, and was of course completely awed, especially that the insight came from the source, and I shared it further here - BFD linked to that - you built the knowledge and added additional insight and connection  - suddenly, lots of people in NEO are experiencing lots of cool dance and technology innovation in the UK, connecting our worlds, and we are better for that.

Did you make any mosaics?

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I like the movement

Even though the clips are small, I like to see the dancers themselves and the way that they have been captured on film. I worked with this sort of movement for a quarter of a century and miss seeing it on Northeast Ohio stages, so for me (though I did make a mosaic or two back then) it is the composition of each small frame that excites me.

I am willing to travel to see this sort of progressive dancing, supple spines, attention to gestural detail, spatial proximity and separation, the slip sliding, round jointedness of the movement is so much more intimate than ballet or it's derivatives which seems to seek to "tell us something". These intimate dances, however small, speak louder than words and remain open for our own cell's reactions. There is a performance quality that is more comfortable to me than the "presentation" of musical theater or 1950s modern or ballet's concert stage performance quality. It is one that does not mow down or “break though” the fourth wall, it melts it. Rather than blasting out to reach you in your seat, it draws you in to be a part of the movement. This sort of movement is successful at doing what art can do which is to begin a dialogue with the viewer.

Two cool concepts - innovative dance and technology

Why don't we start putting together some clips of what is interesting in dance, drawn from around here, and start playing with technology to make that available and interesting in innovative ways. I won't get into how little interesting local dance content is available on line today, but do know that can change. I don't know what interesting dance we could capture, or create, but you do. I know people who can help capture that, and I can help to use technology to make it interesting. Why not?

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